Myth and materiality in a woman's world

Shetland 1800-2000

By Lynn Abrams

Myth and materiality in a woman's world


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-6593-4
  • Pages: 264
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £16.99
  • Published Date: June 2010
  • BIC Category: Humanities / British & Irish history, Society & social sciences / Gender studies: women, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Women's Studies, European history, United Kingdom, Great Britain, History, Modern History
  • Series: Gender in History


The place of women in Shetland society is unique. In this isolated island group off the north of Scotland, women dominated the family, economy and the cultural imagination for 200 years. Here, women were numerically preponderant and economically vital. They maintained families and communities because men were absent. In their minds they constructed an identity of themselves as 'liberated' long before organised feminism was invented.

It examines the opportunities and life experiences of women in a place where more of them worked and fewer got married than anywhere else in the British Isles. And it is about the relationship between myth-making and historical materiality and the ways in which the people of this northern archipelago have imagined their past. Reconstructing this 'woman's world' from fragments of cultural experience captured in written and oral sources, the author recreates and explores Shetland using its inhabitants' material experience and personal testimony.


List of figures, tables and plates
Preface and acknowledgements
Glossary and note on Shetland dialect
Map of Shetland
1. Pasts, peoples and selves
2. Stories
3. Place
4. Work
5. Culture
6. Sexualities
7. Power
8. Reflections


Lynn Abrams is Professor of Gender History at the University of Glasgow

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